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NEW RELEASE: ARCTIC EAGLE

It has been a joy to write this book. Though the publishing has been challenging. I am including the first two chapters. I hope you enjoy the sneak preview and will consider buying.

I will reward a FREE E-book version of Arctic Eagle on June 12th, 2020 to one lucky new subscriber!

I am excited to announce starting Saturday, June 13th, I will share a weekly three part short-story with you! Giant by Nature. The story of friendship, between a sea turtle and a little boy.

Now on to your sneak preview!

CHAPTER ONE

The spring breeze pushed past her sundress as she opened the door to the Estes Park Coffee shop. Gliding up to the counter, Dana, the owner of the shop, already had her order waiting. One large café Mocha and a Cranberry Scone. Dana smiled as she watched Cindi “Higgy” Higgins breeze through the door. “A wonderful Monday morning to you Higgy, I have your order ready.” “You know me so well, Dana.” Cindi said. Dana laughed from behind the counter, saying, “I do Higgy, I just added it to your tab.” As Cindi walked to her regular table, in the back corner of the coffee shop, she thought, Higgy, what a nickname to have. Laura Henderson is to blame for that nickname. She missed Laura. She missed the activity of playing with Laura’s kids. Cindi was honored to be the godmother to all three of Laura and Tom Henderson’s children. She would call her tonight, and they could catch up.

Sitting at the table, she opened her laptop to check her email, as she did every morning before walking a block over to the White Hat Risk Assessment office, where she worked. Taking a sip of the hot Mocha, her eyes grew wide, her heart raced. Flaming Feather? That was a name she thought she would never hear again. Staring at the screen in wonderment, she thought it has been ten years since she talked to Danny Davis, aka Flaming Feather. Why would he be contacting her now? Opening the email, the message read,

                          Arctic Eagle, if anything happens to me, you know where to look.             

Confused, she read it a second time. Not sure what to do, Cindi sat back in the chair, her thoughts drifting back to her childhood, her past, Danny Davis. Flashes of memories raced through her thoughts, their teenage romance, their arrest, and their conviction under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Looking back at the laptop screen, to read the message again, she found it was no longer there. Blinking her eyes rapidly, Cindi moved closer to the screen of her laptop. The screen was blank, the message gone. Did she imagine it? Confused, she searched her email. There was no record of it ever existing. If she did not get moving, she would be late for work, Cindi hastily closed her laptop and packed it in her messenger bag. Grabbing her cup of coffee to go, she walked down the block to start her day at work.

Briskly entering the offices of White Hat Risk Assessment, Cindi walked to her office, saying good morning to her co-workers as she passed by their desks. Reaching her office cubicle, Cindy sat down. She had a new account to work on today. A Bank whose security system needed to be tested. Turning on the computer on her desk, she stashed her messenger bag underneath the nearby shelf in her cubicle. She spent the next few hours before lunch hacking into the Banks system, finding multiple ways to gather their client’s confidential information.

Stretching, Cindy was startled when she heard her co-worker Mary Stewart say, “Hey Higgy, want to go get some lunch?” Turning in her chair to find Mary behind her, she said, “Not today, I am just going to get some air before I start the report for the bank. It was a breeze getting into their system this morning.” Laughing, she continued, “It is going to take two weeks to get their system secured. Your grandmother could have hacked into that system.” Mary giggled, saying, “I am not teaching my grandmother the tricks of this trade. I will see you after lunch Higgy.”

Cindy stood, grabbing her messenger bag. She walked outside to downtown Estes Park. Feeling the sun’s warmth, and taking a breath of the fresh mountain air, she looked down the street. Tourist season had not started yet, the streets filled only with local patrons. Sitting on her favorite bench around the corner from the office, she gazed up at the surrounding mountains, amazed that even though it was warm for a late April day, there was still snow on the mountain tops. Opening her laptop, she again searched for the email she thought she received that morning from Danny. Nothing was there. Closing her laptop, her thoughts went back to her teen years.

As children, Cindi and Danny were raised in the same foster home. Shortly after Cindi turned 16, the FBI arrested her with a group of five others called the MiamiLink Club. Besides her and Danny, the other three kids were also foster children in various homes in the city. In Miami Florida, they used coffee shops, libraries, and internet cafe’s as their location for hacking into first the local phone company giving them the ability to make free long-distance calls and listen to customers’ calls. They then moved on to hacking into corporate networking systems, as a challenge to see if they could. The Club would have contests on who could break into a company the fastest and do something crazy like implant a worm or change their client’s personal information. Then Chen Williams, one of the club members, the weak link in the club, decided it would be fun to infiltrate the Pentagon network. He never was very smart. That is when they were arrested. Cindi’s code name was Arctic Eagle. Her best friend and boyfriend at the time was Danny Davis, code named Flaming Feather. He was the one who taught her how to hack. 

Cindi remembered the trial, and how terrified she was. Convicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, she was sentenced to two years in a juvenile detention center, with three years of probation, and a fine. During her time in the Juvenile Detention Center, Cindi received her GED. With help from a guidance counselor at the center, she became certified as an Ethical Hacker.

Upon her release, that same counselor helped Cindi get a job far from Miami in Estes Park, Colorado working for the company she worked for today. She had been a part of the White Hat group for the last eight years. After her arrest, she had never spoken to or heard from Danny Davis again.

Standing, she thought, that was then, this is now. She had a an excellent job, a cute apartment above the Coffee Shop, friends, and she was now an adult at twenty-six years old. It was time to leave the past behind, and work towards that promotion she wanted as a lead Computer Security Specialist, which would give her a decent raise and the chance to manage a team of four other Specialists. Cindi stood, going back to her office to start the report for the Bank account she had worked on that morning.

CHAPTER TWO

Six days later, on Sunday, Cindi sat at her small kitchen table eating the ham and swiss sandwich she had made for lunch, admiring the new soft yellow color of the walls, her and Dana had painted yesterday. Watching it rain out her window, she picked up her phone to call Laura Henderson, her friend and confidante. Waiting for Laura to answer, she heard Laura say, “Higgy! It’s been two weeks since we talked, hang on.” Cindi could hear Laura say, ‘Charlotte, get off that table before you fall. Tom lift her down and give me a few minutes to talk to Higgy.’ Cindi heard Laura’s husband yell in the background, ‘Hi Higgy!’ Laura focusing back on the call said, “Higgy, how are you? Did you get the kitchen painted? I didn’t see any pictures come through yet.” Cindi laughed and said, “Its done, Dana and I spent all of yesterday painting. I love it. How are the kids?”

Laura replied, “Well, as you heard, Charlotte was dancing on the table. At two years old, I wonder about her sometimes, she is always climbing up on things. Michael is doing fine in Kindergarten, his favorite part of the day is nap time, Kevin, who may not live till next month to turn four, is into everything as usual. Did you get the promotion at work?” Cindi laughing said, “I find out next week. I sure miss you at work, Laura. Though, I must tell you, I appreciate the queen-size bed in our bedroom here, rather than the two twin beds.” Laura giggled, and said, “I miss the quiet evenings, when we could sit and watch movies, eat popcorn, and drink wine. I have not had a quiet evening since Michael was born. When are you coming for a visit?” Cindi replied, “I have two weeks of vacation built up. Depends on whether I get this promotion. If I get it, I want to settle in and get my team together, if not, I will make the trip to cry on your shoulder.” Laura laughed loudly, “So what else is new Higgy? Have you met anyone yet?”

Cindi smiled, “I have no time for a man in my life, Laura.” Feeling a chill go up her spine, Cindi said, “Something happened, I am just not sure if I am imagining it or not.” Laura stood, saying, “Hang on, Higgy, I will get Tom to watch the children.” Waving at Tom to watch the children. Laura walked out to the patio in the back of their California home. Sitting on the chaise lounge she said, “I am outside now, it’s quieter. Tell me what happened?” Cindi replied, “Do you remember when I told you about Danny Davis and the story of my teen years?” Laura replied, “I remember, why?”

Cindi said, “I got an email last week from Danny. I have not heard or talked to him in ten years. All it said was if something happens to me you know where to look.” Laura, aghast, said, “What? That is cryptic. Did you reply?” Cindi said, “I was so stunned. The email came from Flaming Feather, his code name. When I went back to read it again, it was gone.” Laura, surprised, said, “Wow! He had to do some searching to find you Higgy, and then to find your current email, send the message and then make it to look like it never existed. What are you going to do?” Cindi replied thoughtfully, “I will do nothing. That part of my life is best left buried. I do not want to open that door again. It is too risky, and life is good. I cannot mess that up.” Laura replied, “That is probably for the best.” Looking up, Laura saw Tom standing at the door, with a crying red-faced Charlotte. Laura said, “Looks like Tom is having trouble with the baby. Text me some pictures of your kitchen and text me as soon as you hear about that promotion. I got to go, Bye Higgy, I love you girlfriend.”

Cindi stood from the table and put her dishes in the sink. Taking a few pictures of the kitchen, she texted them to Laura and then decided with the rainy afternoon, it would be a good idea to take a nap and read that new romance novel she picked up last week at the bookstore.

Monday morning started as usual. Stopping at the Coffee Shop and walking to work. It was still raining. As Cindi entered the office, she closed her umbrella and moved to her desk. Looking at her in-box, she found three more files of new accounts. Placing them on her desk, Cindi sat down, ready to work on the new files. A few minutes later, Gina, her boss, stopped at her desk and said, “Great job on the Marshall Bank account. Can you stop in my office this afternoon? I would like to discuss your new job duties. Congratulations Cindi, the promotion is yours.” Cindi smiled and said, “Really? I got the promotion. Sure, I will be there promptly at one. Thank you, Gina.” Gina beamed, saying, “You deserve it Cindi. I will see you this afternoon.”  When Gina had walked away, Cindi swung her office chair in a circle in celebration of her new promotion. Picking up her phone, she quickly texted Laura, ‘I got the promotion!’

Setting her phone down, Cindi opened the top file on the pile she received in her in box and started working. Looking at her watch, thinking it was time for lunch, she would have just enough time to have a sandwich and go to her meeting with Gina. Hearing her cell phone vibrate, she looked to see a number from California calling. Answering, she said, “Hello?” She heard a man’s voice say, “Good morning, am I speaking with Cindi Higgins? This is Samuel Herschel; I am the attorney for Daniel Davis.” Cindi felt like her heart was about to stop. Trying to take a breath, she found it difficult. She said into her phone, “This is Cindi Higgins, what can I do for you?”  Mr. Herschel replied, “I am sorry to tell you this over the phone, Ms. Higgins, but Mr. Davis has passed and named you as the executor of his estate. I was wondering if you could come to Los Angeles in the next few days to settle the estate.”

Cindi whispered, “Danny is dead? I have not seen or heard from him in ten years. Why would he leave everything to me? How did he die?” Sam Herschel replied, “Mr. Davis informed me you were the closest he had to family, saying you would know what to do with his estate. I am sorry to inform you; they have ruled his death as suspicious. You have not heard from Mr. Davis in ten years? That’s odd.” Cindi felt the energy leave her body, saying, “Suspicious? What does that mean?” Sam replied, “All I can tell you Ms. Higgins is that his death is still being investigated.” Cindi, taking a deep breath, asked, “Mr. Hershel, do I really need to come to Los Angeles to settle the estate or can we do it by email?”  Sam Herschel said, “Mr. Davis has left you his house, and all his belongings, and a considerable amount of money. You will need to come to my office to sign the paperwork, receive the new deed and keys to the home.”

Cindi’s thoughts started flying a mile a minute. She had just received a promotion. Then her heart sank when she remembered the email, she received from Danny last week. Quieting her mind, she said, “Mr. Herschel, I will need to make some arrangements here at work, can I call you later this afternoon, with a time I can arrive?” Mr. Herschel replied, “Yes, that would be fine. I will email you my office location so you can make the proper transportation arrangements. I will look forward to hearing from you later today. Good day, Ms. Higgins.” 

Cindi set her phone down on her desk. Her eyes filled with tears. Danny was dead. Fear entered every core of her body. Danny’s death was suspicious and with the email he sent her last week, he knew what was coming. What the hell has he dragged her into now? There is no other choice, I will have to see this attorney. Feeling like her past was rushing back into her life, against her will, Cindi stood and walked out of her office to sit on her favorite bench outside. She needed some air; it was hard to breathe. Sitting on the bench, she was unaware of her surroundings. Her mind kept going over the email, Arctic Eagle, if anything happens to me you know where to look. She had no choice. She would have to go to Los Angeles. She would have to find what Danny wanted her to find. Forty-five minutes later, she entered the building. She slowly walked over to Gina’s office.

 Cindi knocked softly on Gina’s office door. Hearing Gina say come in; Cindi entered her office. Gina looked at her watch before saying, “Cindi, right on time.”  Cindi sat down in the chair across from Gina’s desk saying, “Gina, something has come up. There has been a death in what you would call my family, and I need to go to Los Angeles and close out the estate. I know you scheduled this meeting to talk about my promotion. Thank you for having the confidence in me to award me with the promotion, I appreciate it. I am sorry, but I need to use my vacation time to handle this.”

Gina looked at Cindi quizzically. “Family? Cindi, when you came to work for me, I understood that you grew up in foster care. What has happened?” Tears rushed to Cindi’s eyes, “It was one of the other foster children in our home, Danny Davis. He has left everything to me, and his attorney has asked I come to California to settle the estate. His attorney asked that I come to Los Angeles to sign the needed paperwork. The attorney said there is a home involved. I need to find a real estate agent to put the house up for sale. As soon as I am done with that I will be returning.” Gina looking surprised said, “It wasn’t one of the boy’s you they arrested you with was it?” Cindi nodded silently, saying, “I haven’t seen or heard from Danny in ten years so I do not understand why he would do this. I do not even know how he found me. When your sister, Camila, made the arrangements for me to come here to start a new life, I know she did not tell anyone what she was doing and took great care in making sure no one would find me. So, I am as surprised as you are.”

Gina nodded her head. Remembering when her sister Camila called her about Cindi. She said she was one of the most talented hackers she had ever seen. A young girl tied into a group that could have destroyed her life. She thought Cindi was a decent girl who could make a difference in the world with her talents. So, she agreed to give her the start she needed, setting her up in an apartment over her best friend Dana’s coffee shop and giving her a job. Over the past eight years, Cindi had flourished and proved her worth to White Hat Risk Assessment.

Gina looked at Cindi and said, “I understand Cindi, take the two weeks and when you return, we will get you set up with your new team. I am bringing four new employees in from around the States. They are young, with similar backgrounds such as yours. I believe you are the one to guide them into becoming assets to White Hat. When are you planning on leaving?” Cindi replied, “I will make the arrangements to leave from Denver tomorrow. If that is okay with you.” Gina said, “Okay, give your new account files to Mary, and check in with me, letting me know when you will return. In the meantime, I will have your team settled in and ready to start when you get back. Why don’t you go home and get things settled to leave? I am sorry you have to deal with this Cindi.” Cindi gratefully looked at Gina saying, “Thank you Gina, I will call you soon.”

Cindi went back to her desk. Straightening her desk, she took her new work files to Mary, saying, “Mary, I have to leave for two weeks to take care of some family business, Gina asked me to give you these new accounts to complete.” Mary replied, “Sure Cindi, is everything okay?” Cindi nodded, and said, “Yes, just some unexpected family business to deal with. I will see you in two weeks.” Cindi went back to her office, got her bag, and walked back to her apartment, stopping into the coffee shop to let Dana know that she was leaving for a couple weeks.

Entering her apartment, Cindi sat down at her desk in the living room, opening her laptop. She quickly made flight arrangements to Los Angeles and organized a Lyft to take her to the Denver airport at nine am the next morning. Checking her email, she saw she had received the email from Sam Herschel. Cindi mapped out his office, finding a hotel within a two-block area. Making one night of reservations, she thought if Danny had left her his house, when she got the keys from Mr. Herschel, she could take a Lyft to the house and stay there. Emailing Mr. Herschel her travel arrangements, she informed him she would be in his office at ten a.m. the day after tomorrow.

Cindi went into her bedroom to pack her suitcase for her upcoming trip. Once completed with that task, she went back to her laptop finding an acknowledgement for the appointment time with Mr. Herschel. Closing her laptop, Cindi quickly reopened it. She conducted an internet search for Danny Davis. Finding nothing but the article of their arrest, she again closed her laptop. Going into the kitchen, she poured herself a glass of wine and settled into the plush deep brown couch in her living room. Taking a sip of the wine, she set the glass on the coffee table in front of her and picked up her cell phone without looking at it. She should call Laura and let her know she was coming. Staring at her phone for a few minutes, she thought better of it. She would call Laura when she got settled into Danny’s house, a house that was now hers. Picking up her glass her wine, she said to herself, if anything happens to me, you know where to look. With a deep feeling in her gut, she knew that her life was about to take an unexpected left turn; she downed the rest of her glass of wine, drew a hot bath, and went to bed.

The next morning, Cindi rose and quickly dressed, getting ready to leave. Carrying her suitcase down the flight of stairs, she walked out the door of the apartment and into the Coffee shop, where she ordered a large Mocha Latte and a Cranberry Scone to go. Seeing the Lyft pull up in front of the coffee shop, her coffee and scone in hand, she pulled her suitcase behind her out the door. The driver loaded her suitcase in the trunk while she settled into the back seat for the hour and a half drive to the Denver airport. Taking a sip of her hot coffee, she placed it in the cup holder next to her and pulled the romance novel she had started the other night out of her bag. Reading a romance novel would keep her thoughts of what was coming at bay.

If you enjoyed the first two chapters, you can get your Free Unlimited Kindle version here.

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Covid 19 Shut In: Day 30. A Month In Review

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Though spring is a time of new life, renewal, and warmer weather, I have been spending the morning reflecting on the last month.  It is day thirty of the shut in because of the Covid 19 Virus. My hopes are that everyone reading this is well and healthy.

Foremost, one thing I cannot comprehend is why there is a current toilet paper shortage. Is that really what everyone thought of purchasing first? Why not frozen or canned food? Relevant items to use when you are locked in your home. I do not believe that toilet paper is an effective item to prevent getting the Covid 19 virus. There are closet’s around the world filled with toilet paper.

The last thirty days at home have been nothing short of interesting. My mother-in-law who suffers from Alzheimer’s lives with us full time. Normally each morning she enjoys watching the news and reads aloud what crosses the television screen at the bottom of the screen. How do you explain the Corona Virus thirty or more times a day to an Alzheimer’s patient?  The solution? Subtitles. I found she will read anything running across the bottom of the screen while you watch something else. Though I have found the Andy Griffith Show on Netflix has kept her laughing without subtitles. Do you know that there are over one hundred and fifty episodes of Andy Griffith?

Then there is the fun of opening Mom’s experiences to Face time and Skype. Trying to figure out how she can see herself and her loved one on a phone and laptop is nothing short of amazing. Then comes the irritation of why can’t they just come and visit, why are we doing this? The most heart wrenching part of all this, is even though Mom can’t remember five minutes ago, there is that space of real time when she hears something on the television and you witness the confusion, the fear, and the realm of anxiety that comes for the next few hours, even though she can’t remember why.

Another realization in my reflection is how I am learning not to even watch the local news stations. If I hear one more word about having so much more time to clean house, tips on how to get your kids to help clean house, or anything that has to do with filling my time with cleaning house, I swear I will toss the television out the front door.  I think they should air repeats of Bob Ross shows, or DIY’s on making something creative.

I am trying to make good use of my time. In the early morning hours, I work on writing a new book, Arctic Eagle. Over breakfast with Mom, we have in-depth discussions on planning a deck garden. I have visions of her watering the plants in the mornings, while I sit nearby on the deck writing a new mystery series, The Cold Case Chronicles.

Random thoughts race through my mind. Will much change when we can go to the store again together? I know she will wear a mask. Will the garden centers open in time for us to plant a garden? Dare I make a trip to Walmart for potting soil and seeds? Will I run out of craft supplies? I do not see that happening in the next five years, but the concern is real. Will I have to cancel my vacation plans to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park in August? This will be over by then, right?

I am fortunate my husband is essential, as he reminds me of this daily. He is a truck driver. My daughter owns a hair salon and going insane being home. She has taken to painting signs, I recently found one outside the front door that said, “Made with love and other shit.” She is coloring swear pages, and trying not to panic about losing her business, making her mortgage, having enough to buy food. She is one of those business owners that does not qualify for unemployment. The Grand kids are enjoying the break from College and sleeping till noon daily.  This is my life, keeping everyone calm, keeping mom occupied, and being thankful the hubby is working, so we can help family members who need financial support.  So, in closing friends, stay healthy, stay safe. Connect with your loved ones however you can. So, in closing friends, stay healthy, stay safe. Connect with your loved ones however you can. Stay calm.

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO JANUARY

I personally find January to be the dreariest month of the year. In Minnesota we currently have mountains of snow, and today we are expecting another foot to land on my doorstep. This wonderful month tends to be the longest month of the year. Though I must admit, as the snow falls from the sky, it is beautiful to watch and creates a picture-perfect landscape. It is hard to imagine that Spring will be arriving in just weeks. Of course, Garden Catalogs are already arriving in my mailbox! That one thing provides hope.

January can also be the most depressing month of the year. Though I am not one to get depressed, I have found a multitude of ways to get through the month, so I don’t lose my mind. I have a few items I keep in my bag of tricks and I will share them with you.

I purge my closet of clothes I haven’t worn in the last year. I must admit, three bags went in the donation box this year. I am beginning to wonder if I am clothes hog.

I live in Minnesota! Once the temperature hits thirty below, I accessorize! I put on my multiple layers of sweaters and my winter coat. I often wear a cute scarf and matching mittens.

Let’s keep it real, my bank account does not allow me to go someplace warm. However, I would recommend it for anyone who can. May I suggest, Nevada. Not only is the weather warmer, but they have casino’s and buffets. I especially recommend Laughlin, Nevada. Great food, warm weather, and penny slot machines.

Eating! I tend to bake a lot of cookies during January. Today I will be mixing up a batch of peanut butter cookies to get me through the on-coming snowstorm. I also like to try new recipes during January. Creative cooking is always good for the soul. I especially like creating new soups in the crock pot.

Start a new project! I always start my new craft projects in January. Be it a new afghan to crochet, new set of dish towels to embroider, or a new quilt to sew. Okay, I will admit, I start all three each January. It is important to note, I have 52 unfinished quilts to complete in my sewing room.

I write. Whether it is starting a new year journal or working on a current or new novel, I write. Nothing like getting stranded at home in another foot of snow on top of the three feet you already have, to get your mind working on a story. I try to place my locations in warmer climates.

Television is a staple. New shows start in January, then there is always Netflix!

Remember Spring will be coming, though looking out my window it is hard to imagine. My pool is yet not buried in the snow, so you will often find me gazing lovingly out the window, saying, Hello Pool, sixteen more weeks and I can fill you again.

Remember we can do this! We are survivors! Leave a comment how you get through January.

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Setting Your Vision For 2020

For years, I set New Years Resolutions and never accomplished a darn thing.  So I found a strategy that worked for me.  At the beginning of December, I go over my past year’s goals and reflect on what I have accomplished and where I have failed.  Yes, I can tell you now, we all fail at one time or another, it’s a part of life.

I look at the accomplishments as wins and failures?  I spend the time to reflect on what I could have done to improve on my success.  What worked and what didn’t work. 

I reflect on whether my actions indeed brought me closer to my overall vision for the year.  Did your’s?  So I ask, did your actions bring you closer to your yearly goals?  If not, you cannot expect the things in your life that you need and want to change: to change.  Everyone has their different walks in life.  The setting goals process is not a one size fits all method, but it is unique to your life’s vision.  Whether it is personal goals or career goals, the goal map is yours to make to create change and success.

Here are some reasons to set those goals:

Goals will always provide you with a starting point and a destination to reach.

When you write your goals out, you see where you are going, what changes you need to make at the mid-point of the year, and if you are progressing in your goals.

The process of writing your goals will help you clarify your desires, understand their importance, and commit yourself to achieve them.

Remember there are always some sacrifices to be made, but stay committed and overcome the challenges.  Work on your plan.

Your goals will help you focus your attention on your purpose and inspire you to be better.

When setting goals, be sure to define them in your overall vision for the year.

The secret to achieving your goals?  Start them.

Journaling Tips

Write your goals for the year on the first page of your journal, or create a vision board.  Whichever you choose, it will be there as a reminder for the year ahead.

Every month, take the time to review your goals and write about your accomplishments, consider the changes you need to make, and reflect on the challenges of the month in moving forward with your vision.

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HOW TO SELL HALLOWEEN TO A SKEPTIC

Halloween is one of the most likely holidays of the year met with much skepticism.  Parents spend time planning costumes for their children as little monsters, vampires, ghosts, witches and the current fad of the year for princesses and heroes.  What child doesn’t love collecting candy?  I have childhood memories of being three or four years of age, thinking it was the best time ever.  I learned all I had to do was ring the doorbell, and the person gave me candy.  I thought it was so great; my mother told me I was out ringing doorbells in the middle of the night looking for more candy.  After that incident, she no longer allowed me to eat a lot of candy after returning home from Trick or Treating.

The origin of the Halloween holiday began over 1900 years ago in Europe.  A Celtic celebration of a new year celebrating the days as when the souls of the dead supposedly mingle with the living. They celebrated the holiday with large bonfires, often still done today.  However, many religions look at Halloween as a pagan day.  So let’s view as to why we should love the Halloween holiday.

You can be what you want to be

One of the primary reasons to love Halloween is that people can dress up to be whoever or whatever they want to represent. It is like a night to play “make-believe.” It’s not just about the scariest outfits, but it is about imagination and characters that depict your personality or have inspired you the most.

You can play dress-up without worrying about any judgment. We can make bold choices and go as something people don’t associate with us. It usually is the perfect time to open up and be brave.

The Adrenaline Rush

 The rush is the best part of all adrenaline seekers. Unlike all other holidays, this one is exciting as well as thrilling. You can do all the daring things and scary things that previously frightened you. This holiday makes you want to take a leap of faith and challenge yourself for new ideas.

If you happen not to be an adrenaline seeker, you can watch horror movies or scare other people just for fun.

Candy

One primary reason to love Halloween is the amount of free candy that you can collect. Typically kids aren’t even allowed to have that much candy, but Halloween seems like a free pass, and you can have as much candy as you like then. Apart from this, you can get all types of sweets like toffees, chocolates, popcorn balls and so much more. Adults are also known to have a sweet tooth. Nobody says no to free candy, so why not avail it when you can. And we believe even those skeptics can’t refuse some good candy.

Carving Pumpkins

One of the favorite activities of Halloween is carving the pumpkins, which is very exciting. All the family members usually carve the pumpkins to display them around the house. Making weird and scary faces on pumpkins as well as making Jack O Lanterns is an exciting activity that makes you love Halloween and pumpkins. Some places even hold the best-carved pumpkins competitions to celebrate the best-carved pumpkins.

Don’t have to buy gifts

Some of the skeptics who find Christmas better need to know that Halloween doesn’t require you to buy gifts and give them. You can wear your bed sheet and collect candy. Without spending a single dime, you can have most of the fun at Halloween.

Decorations

Another one of the reasons to celebrate Halloween is the amount of exciting and scary decorations. Halloween decorations are creativity at its peak. The spider webs, hanging bats, carved pumpkins, cauldrons, and ghosts hanging around give the place an eerie vibe and festive feel. Creating the decorations is an open-door to creative ideas and putting them in motion.

A Different Kind of Connection

On Halloween, people often dress as monsters and other scary creatures, which help to reduce any fear of the unknown or the supernatural. As a holiday, Halloween allows people to dress up into things they are most scared of, and this helps them remove any fear of the being.

Halloween encourages people to be brave and be firm against our fears. It connects us with our concerns as well as the unknown realm. Halloween encourages us to take a peek into that realm and feel comfortable with it.

Conclusion

Halloween is one eerie as well as a thrilling holiday, different than all others. Some might be skeptical, but even they will be convinced by reading all the above reasons. Some like the decorations; others love sweets, but most importantly, Halloween helps us realize our mortality and helps us face our biggest fears in the form of dressing up like them.

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Will Girl’s Trip’s Ever Rule The World?

Nothing is more exciting than spending quality time with girlfriends. But nowadays in a busy world staying in touch with friends can be hard.  Sometimes our friends live miles away or have moved to another State to establish her career, and now you all are living away from each other. Why arrange a long weekend Girl’s Trip to spend time together? Spending a memorable time with your friend’s is exciting and memorable because:

Girls Like Adventures

We know how to enjoy every little moment with friends. Girls have massive excitement for trips across the world with friends to enjoy every moment and make it memorable. According to our secret sourcebook, girls when traveling, do not like to go fast, be lonely, and we never want to visit someplace alone. We like to move at a slower pace, which allows us to collect moments, take photos, and build exciting memories. 

Diet doesn’t matter

You cannot enjoy your Girl’s Trip without having great wine and yummy food. In my case, excellent Root Beer.  Eat and drink whatever you want. No need to worry about calories. Forget the dieting and eat everything to celebrate the moments. 

Girls love to do Gossips

What is more fun than gossiping with your girls? Yes, this is the favorite hobby of every girl. What others wear, how they live, what we love to discuss with our girlfriends? But remember one thing; while gossiping about someone make sure that person is not around you otherwise you will be responsible for any upcoming situation. 

Girls love to do shopping

I can surely say shopping is my weakness, and when we visit a new place, we have an urge to buy every unique thing we find.  Now it’s our best friend’s duty to keep us in the budget and stop us from purchasing a lot of useless items. We must pay attention and warn them if it is a beautiful item that won’t fit in the vehicle on the road trip home.  Most things, if needed can be mailed back home.  Look at all the options when making purchases.

RULES FOR A GIRL’S TRIP

Dress up in whatever you want

In our daily routines, we often are dressed in business clothes or whatever fits in our career wardrobe. On a trip with your girlfriends, you can wear whatever you want to wear. Feel comfortable and feel relaxed about what you are going to wear. Your friends will not make fun of you. Make every moment remarkable and excellent. 

Capture every moment

Great pictures are an excellent way to remember your trip. It can put a smile on your face even when you’re having a bad day. Girls love to take selfies and we-fies. Take pictures of every moment.  Whether you are in a hotel or cabin,  girls like to take photos of every corner of the hotel or cabin, and then they love to take pictures of food and share it on social media like Instagram and snap chat to their other friends too, of course, show them what fun they are missing.

Life is too short, you may spend 70 years working to make money or to establish yourself, but in the end, you may have no friends to spend time with, to share your achievements and dreams. So do not waste any time in making plans for a Girl’s Trip.  Decide on a location with your friend’s, and make the weekend memorable and joyful.

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Reflection: Expectations VS. Reality

Beauty surrounds us.

Fall is my favorite season of the year.  The air is crisp; the trees are in brilliant colors of red, orange, and yellows.  This time of year is the perfect time to sit out on my deck in the early morning with that first cup of coffee, watching the sunrise and breathing in the smell of fallen leaves on the ground.

It also begins my time of reflection for the year. Reflecting on what my expectations were for the year vs. the state of things as they exist today — reality, those things that we can and cannot see. 

As I reflect on the past year and the expectations, I set for myself; I found a valuable lesson.  Always expect the unexpected.  I am retired, enjoying the quiet days to myself while the hubby is at work.  I joined a writer’s group, belong to a social women’s group and love to spend the early morning hours on my deck starting my day journaling, then moving to spend the day working on my Ignited Secrets Trilogy.  I enjoy the fact the children are doing well; the grandchildren are all now in college and life is good.  My expectation?  I am going to become a full-time author.  What better way to spend retirement, right?

Then life happens.  As we age, our parents get older, and we must ensure they safe, healthy, and happy.  My siblings and I did for our mother, who passed nine years ago.  I had lost my dad when I was twenty-one.  My mother in law suffers from mid-stage Alzheimer’s.  She had been living with her daughter for the past four years.  Life changed for them.  Her husband took a new job in another State.  Therefore, our life changed; someone needed to step up and care for mom full time.  Mom has moved in permanently until which time she needs twenty-four-hour care. 

Expectations vs. Reality.  I still take the time to journal early each morning, but most of my writing is now happening on my kitchen table, rather than my sacred space in the garage.  Yes, I had my hubby build me an office/quilting room in the garage.  What was once a two-car garage, became a one-car garage.  By writing at my kitchen table, I can answer the multitude of questions my mother in law has throughout the day. 

It amazes me to watch her, realizing she is in the moment.  A place most of us strive to be.  Though for her, that moment is all she has.  No five-minute past, no one-minute future.  Yesterday while the President was on every channel of the television for most of the day, she was trying to figure out what he was talking about and why he seemed angry.  Mom is 87, and her generation listened when the President talked.  Then she wanted to know why someone didn’t fix the lighting. He looked orange.  I covered these questions a hundred different times yesterday as if it was the first time she had asked.  I became creative; how do you explain today’s world? 

Here I am in my season of reflection, adjusting my expectations, and making new expectations for the year to come.  I write out my hopes, beliefs, and my dreams for the future.  Similar to New Year’s resolutions, though I learned long ago I do not stick to resolutions.  Hence the new word expectations. 

I split them out in three categories, my hopes for my grandchildren and how I can assist them in their direction.  That can be anywhere from financially to embroidering them a new set of dish towels for their new apartments as they start their life path.  I reflect on my written life mission and vision statement, making the changes needed to stay current.

 I then spell out my dreams for the year, what do I want to accomplish as a writer, how many quilts do I want to make this year or finish, and what growth do I want to see in my self for the year.  These are my goals.  Simple right? 

My signal for reflection is the changing of the leaves, my sign for setting expectations is the first snowfall and breaking my goals down to achieve success begins December first to be prepared to start the New Year with a bang.

Everyone has different ways of continuing their journey through life.  I find mine works for me.  I encourage everyone to find their way to make each new year the best year of their life.  For mom, I fully intend to make this next year a year of feeling safe, happy and fresh-baked cookies on the counter every day. 

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WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

Everyone has a story.  Life is a journey, and each new day begins a new chapter for each of us. How are you telling your story?  Keeping a journal allows us to write down our experiences, our thoughts, our feelings, and our dreams for the future.

 I have been journaling for over the last fifty-plus years, and I still have every one of those journals.  I recently took the time to look back at the journals I kept as a teenager.  I must be honest here and admit I am in my mid-sixties today.  Looking back on my teen years, I would have to say in all honesty; I am lucky to be alive.  I was a wild child, though it was a different time in the late sixties and early seventies. 

Those journals are jam-packed full of poems, drawings, trials, and tribulations, all of which have brought me into what is I believe is called the golden years of my life.  Looking back, I understand how those years have shaped the woman I have become today.

One of the things I found in reviewing those journals of my life is that I could carry on a complete conversation with myself.  I would ask myself a boatload of questions or complain about my parents, fights with girlfriends, and that description of my first kiss left me holding my stomach. I was laughing so hard.  The point is, I was spending a lot of time self-dialoguing with myself.  Did I answer the boatload of questions?  Not always at that particular time, but looking ahead in years, I found they pretty much answered themselves.  Oh, and by the way, I got over the traumatic experience of French kissing. 

What I did find interesting is when I would come across a problem I needed to solve, I always asked the same four questions.  To this day, I still use those, but the wordage is a bit different.  Any life problem I have had, I asked my self the following questions for many years:

  • What is the purpose of my having experienced this the last (timeline)?
  • What am I trying to do here?
  • What lesson am I supposed to learn from this experience?
  • What’s the real issue of personal growth for me in this experience?

It is important to note that these questions are not easy to answer in the throws of chaos.  The last time I used them, it took almost a year to work through the issues.  However, it will help you work through the experience and come out on top of it, with a clear understanding of why this what meant to happen.  As I said, the last time I answered these, I came to understand one of the many valuable lessons.  If you don’t listen to your guides, they will pick you up and throw you on the floor.

Another factor I recognized was that I was establishing future goals, whether it be New Year’s resolutions, or a daily, weekly, or monthly goal.  By writing out my goals, I was able to write out a plan on how to achieve them and identify any obstacles that stood in my way.

Another realization I had, with goal setting, is that I found the way I dealt with the goals when they didn’t look like I was going to reach them was to write out the problem and readjust the aim to bring it to reality.  Similar to a Plan B strategy, though sometimes I made it to Plan W.  We all take different paths in life.  Often those paths reached a crossroads, and it’s then I would have to choose to go left or right.  When I was making those choices, it was interesting to see I eventually reached my goals, though the journey could sometimes be challenging, sometimes risky, but fun.

Through the twists and turns in my life journey through the years, came personal growth.  That’s the thing with journaling; you can go back and reflect on where you have been and how much you have grown. I worked through so many issues along that journey in my notebooks that it was interesting to read on how my analytical skills evolved in handling life challenges, how I wrote out each twist and came up with a way to move past the turns. 

The other surprising aspect was how my creativity opened.  I would use colored pens, draw, glued or taped in pictures of my friends and I going to concerts, or hanging out at Cherokee Park, pictures from magazines, right down to my favorite cookie recipes. News flash, I still do that today.  I have a giant bucket of gel pens and even to this day tape in exciting things I find. I also have been known to dry flower petals I have grown and glue them in as well. 

If you’re not journaling today, you should consider doing so.  Your life is extraordinary, and your journey is meaningful.  Every experience brings a lesson, joy, and success in your life.  It will bring you to your authentic self, open your consciousness and bring transformation to your life.  So, start recording your life today, I promise when you look back in your journal five years from now, you will be amazed how far you have come.

I have designed a journal that you can use to start recording your journey.  Yes, I had that creative idea of making my own journal’s.  You can find “The Journey to Enlightenment” on Amazon.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1095908324?pf_rd_p=183f5289-9dc0-416f-942e-e8f213ef368b&pf_rd_r=15R387RZXCY83XYEPJS4

COVID 19 MASKS: WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

black framed eyeglasses on paper
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Reflecting over the past six weeks, I ponder what I have lost. Networking with other authors, seeing anyone else in general. Though I am an introvert, every so often I do like to see others. At first, I lost my momentum to write, but joining NaNoWriMo Aprils Camp got me back on track and I was able to finish my newest book “Arctic Eagle,” and get it to my editor, Masani.

What I have not lost? Weight seems like no one can take that from me. I cannot seem to quit baking. Though, my mother in law and husband, seem to be enjoying the dozens of cookies, bars, brownies, and bread. My body is screaming Stop!

Now let us talk about masks. I sewed three hundred masks and donated them. However, I should have attached a warning note with them. You see I wear glasses. Big black glasses. So, I go to the local grocery store for some needed items. I put on my homemade mask, get out of the car, go inside, grab a cart, and a disinfectant wipe and clean that baby down.

I walk first to the produce section, you know, where they have those plastic bags you can put produce in? Well, I grab two. One for each hand and quickly insert hands in bags. Thought I should pick up a few oranges for mom in law, fruit is good right? Healthy. They had just filled the bin. I want to be sure to pick the best oranges, juicy ones. I stand in front of the filled bin, picking one, then two oranges and placing them in an individual plastic bag. My goal was six. I think to myself, this is going well, I am being responsible, for my health, and everyone else’s. I smile, and quietly giggle.

As I am reaching to choose a third one, I suddenly realize something is wrong, I cannot see! I grab the third orange, wondering what in the world? What happens? Yes, at least three dozen Oranges are suddenly hitting the floor, I cannot breathe, and I cannot see. I sense the produce man running towards me.

Turns out when you wear a mask, and wear large glasses, they tend to fog up when you breath. Having plastic bags on your hands, does not help your ability to take your glasses off. So here I am looking at the young produce man, glasses fogged, saying, “Help Me!”  Mind you he is a teenager. He takes my glasses off my face, smiles, at least I think he was smiling, I did not hear him laughing. Let me give you a visual. Without my glasses I cannot see a thing. I wear my glasses, but also need to wear readers, when reading, or working on the computer.

As he was calmly wiping my glasses off on his shirt, I was trying to remove my mask with my plastic covered hands. Finally, a not so nice word came out of my mouth, I ripped those plastic bags off my hands, and took off my mask. The nice produce man, handed me my glasses, and said, “Its okay, I will clean this up.”

I thanked that young man. Turned and put my cart away. I went back out to the car, drove home, and made a list. I sent my husband to the store. I may never go back.

So that was how my Sunday went. How was yours? Please feel free to share, with anyone you know who wears glasses.

FINAL SECRETS

Final Secrets FinalLast week I was thrilled to write the words, “The End.” Finishing the last book of my “Ignited Secrets Trilogy,” which left me feeling proud, accomplished, a bit overwhelmed and sad. I will miss my characters. They have been a part of my life for two years. Three women with secrets, all who grew personally within each story, learning to accept themselves for who they were and who they came to be.

Of course in all honesty “Shadow of Secrets” came to me while I was sitting on my deck painting a rock, thinking, Okay Kacie, you have been forced to retire, are you going to spend the rest of your life painting rocks? What is next? Then it dawned on me, I could be an author.

When I started the first book, “Shadow of Secrets,” is was to be just one book about an environmental mystery Fraud in the renewable energy industry. This was an experience, I watched evolve firsthand, and it disgusted me. Though my book is fictional, the circumstances different, yet similar, it was an experience that impacted me deeply.

Near the end of writing that first book, is when I realized that this could be a trilogy focusing on the main women in the book. Each woman had a story to tell. I surprised my self at the story line as it went on. What started as one book about an environmental mystery, turned into three and by the end of the third book, we had a Mexican Cartel/Mafia war involving the Irish Republican Army and CIA fictional Black Op’s teams. Mind you I am surprised the FBI has not showed up at my door, considering the online research I have been conducting.

It’s amazing how stories evolve as they are written. Soon, I must start the next book, “Arctic Eagle.” In a world full of risk, a quiet Cyber Operations Specialist is pulled into a worldwide chase to stop a terror attack in Los Angeles. Arctic Eagle came to me in a dream. I know right? My dreams should be one of peace, happiness, expectations.

More research to come. If the FBI shows up at the door, I will post a link to donate towards my bail. If I survive the next book, I may start a series of novella’s called The Harris Graystone Mysteries. What mystery could the Girls from the Ignited Secrets Trilogy solve next?

Lesson, life doesn’t end at retirement, we can achieve our dreams no matter how old we are. We all have stories to tell. What’s your story?

Interested in reading Final Secrets? Click Here.

Barriers

Radical Rhymes

Yesterday I went to see Les Miserables the musical. It wasn’t my first time, and Victor Hugo’s masterpiece is the only book that actually reduced me to tears. But it isn’t the performance I want to discuss here, although it was magnificent, it’s the interactions I observed on stage. The cast were extremely tactile, they were constantly touching one another. Now, some of this was choreographed, but some seemed to be designed to comfort and reassure one another. Back patting, shoulder squeezing, supportive smiles, it was heart-warming to witness.

And it made sense to me. They are a company, a community. They are in it together, a collective with a common purpose: to provide a great show.

In life we are – it seems to me – far less comfortable with contact. As a student one of my lecturers showed us a video taken of crowds walking along a high…

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